Call for Session Proposals


Breaking the Silence: From Rebellion to Waging Love

Submit proposals by Friday, January 25th, 2017.

Looking for something specific?

WHEN: June 1st – June 4th, 2017

  • Pre-Conference with Julian Boal May 30th-June 1st
  • Welcome Event on June 1st
  • Workshops June 2nd-4th

WHERE:  Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA, a city with a rich history of activism and organizing

PTO 2017 Conference in Detroit

WHAT: A chance to LEARN, SHARE, QUESTION, and CONNECT through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and other people working to fight oppression and create justice. Learn more about Freire and Boal and their work at

WHO: YOU. Students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, organizers. People of all ages, places, identities, experiences. If you want to build dialogue and make a more just world, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are NEEDED.

WHY: The 22 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference will be held in Detroit, MI commemorating the 50th Anniversary of 1967 Detroit Rebellion and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence – in which he called for a radical revolution in values in the struggle against the evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism—and looking toward the future.

In July of 1967, responding to racist employment discrimination, segregated and substandard housing and public schools, lack of opportunity and police brutality, Black neighborhoods in Detroit exploded in what has been characterized as the most deadly urban rebellion in the United States to date. In the 50 years since the long hot summer of ’67 in Detroit, Black, Brown and poor White people have been galvanizing to counter oppressive policies.

Around the globe, oppressed people continue to face struggles against inequities that make 2017 feel eerily similar to 1967. Communities respond in action, striving towards change. But activists and advocates are likened to terrorists and public discourse around rioting, rebelling, and revolting intensifies.

Nearly 50 years later in Detroit and elsewhere, people are thinking about the meaning of rebellion and the role of radical love in transformation. Rebellions and revolutions are often expressions of justifiable anger and pain, but are not usually thought of as acts of love. What is the relationship between these strategies? What’s love got to do with either of them? As a city and as a world, what are our critical, visionary responses to a system that constantly challenges our humanity? Waging love can also be transformative and revolutionary.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed (PO) was born out of the needs of Brazilian peasants in a particular time and place, but Paolo Freire’s theory of liberatory education remains for all of us, to use his own words from Pedagogy of Hope, “an adventure in unveiling…an experiment in bringing out the truth.” Theatre of the Oppressed (TO), born out of similar needs, was ironically triggered by what Augusto Boal himself noted was an error in judgement, when his theatre company presented a play that called for “shedding our blood to free our lands” without being willing to take up arms itself. Practitioners of PO and TO continue to support, challenge, and serve communities by developing techniques that promote transformative action and amplify the voices of oppressed people speaking their own truths.

Detroit is also a particular place in a particular time with its own struggles and its own truth, but it is as well a place to continue the adventure. Now more than ever we must come together as people, as communities, as movements to develop and share strategies to combat the many oppressions that continue to rob us of our humanity. PTO invites you to be part of its conference, commemorating a moment of rebellion in the past, but also engaging in a powerful effort to reimagine current and future struggles as acts of waging love.


  • Submit a proposal to share your work and ideas with people from around the world.
  • Register to attend as a participant, whether you want to present or not. COMING SOON
  • If you’re local to Detroit, volunteer with us. Email to let us know you want to volunteer.


  • Check out the questions related to our theme below. Let the questions get your ideas flowing.
  • Read our list of session formats at the bottom of the page, and choose one that fits your work.
  • Submit a proposal by our deadline of January 25th, 2017.


The questions below are provided to inspire your session proposal. Please consider them as you develop your proposal.

  • How can we use Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Theatre of the Oppressed, and related techniques to serve larger movements working to end oppressions?
  • What does rebellion and waging love look like in art, activism, education, and organizing?
  • How have organizing and the movements towards racial equity shifted since the 1967 Detroit Rebellion? What strategies may still be relevant now?
  • How can we make certain that art and education continue to support ongoing struggles for liberation?


All sessions will need to center around the work of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and/or Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. Presenters must be familiar with at least one of these works/modalities.

  • Single Session:90 minutes
  • Double Session:Two back-to-back 90 minute sessions totaling three hours (not available for Paper Presentations)

Anti-Oppression DialogueSpecific interactive trainings for conference participants in various aspects of anti-oppression work, including language/terminology, specific communities and populations, challenges and ethics, and working methodologies rooted in liberatory education and/or TO techniques. Sessions should engage Paulo Freire’s basic ideas of dialogue.

Debates or Dialogues: Discussions or debates between activists, artists, organizers, and/or popular educators. Sessions may also ask attendees to participate in dialogue around specific concepts, techniques, or case studies related to PO and/or TO work.  All presenters must have agreed to participate and be part of the proposal.

Panel: Pre-formed group of 3-4 presentations addressing a specific area of liberatory work. All presenters must have agreed to participate and be part of the proposal.  Sessions should also include dialogue or other interaction with attendees.

Paper Presentation: Summary of research or issue in PO and/or TO work and theory, delivered from notes. Papers should NOT be read, but rather presented.   Each presentation should last approximately 10-12 minutes, excluding discussion. We will cluster papers in groups of 3-4 with time for dialogue. Not available for double session.

Performances: Interactive performative events that promote and problematize transformation, liberation, social justice, and/or political engagement. The conference should not be seen merely as a showcase, but rather as an opportunity to engage in interactive exploration of the performance itself, the topics about which it was created, or both.

Workshops, The Techniques: Interactive workshops that focus on exploring, explaining, and experiencing techniques of PO and/or TO. Workshops may also present adaptations, expansions, and permutations of the work developed for changing situations, circumstances, and populations.

Workshops, The Applications: Interactive workshops that explore the multitude of ways PO and/or TO can be (and is) used for social justice, transformation, and liberatory work.  Workshops and case studies may also highlight convergences other liberatory artistic and educational techniques.

Questions? Email